<b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C
Lot 437
1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE
Coachwork by Muhlbacher et Fils, Paris
Sold for US$ 385,000 inc. premium

Lot Details
<b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C <b>1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE</b><br />Chassis no. 2169<br />Engine no. 71C
1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP OPEN DRIVE LANDAULETTE
Coachwork by Muhlbacher et Fils, Paris

Chassis no. 2169
Engine no. 71C

7,428cc L-Head Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
50 bhp at 1,500 rpm
3-Speed Manual Transmission
4-Wheel Leaf Spring Suspension
Rear Drum Brakes

THE ROLLS-ROYCE 40/50HP SILVER GHOST

For anyone not familiar with the model, the Silver Ghost towers above many of its contemporaries in that it was entirely over-engineered and built to last forever, but also it was well-marketed and so was very successful causing it to last in production for nearly 20 years.

Henry Royce's fastidious attention to detail ensured that where a certain level of build quality was necessary for a car to work, he would make it far beyond this requirement, one only need gaze at the engine or rear axle, each held together with so great a number of bolts that it seems possible that they were intended never to come apart, indeed on a few surviving examples they never have! Where one ignition system was enough for some cars, naturally the Rolls had magneto and coil, throughout the car a 'belt and braces' approach was taken.

Better still as with all the best machinery, the most important element – the motor – is a work of art in itself, the blend of aluminum crankcase, copper and brass piping, brass and aluminum castings and intricate control tubes being such a work of beauty, that even when some cars were scrapped this aspect was preserved and restored. Some adorn collections today in this form. A well rebuilt motor will often start simply on the firing of the spark from the coil to one of the liter capacity cylinders, without the engine having ever been turned over, it is little wonder that they were so appreciated by their chauffeurs! Similarly they were coveted by their owners, who frequently named them as one might a yacht. The silence of the company's silver painted trails car earned the 40/50hp model its 'Ghost' title.

Where other manufacturers with products of similar quality faltered, thanks to the marketing genius of Claude Johnson the model sold well, and the reputation that it earned meant that they have always been prized from day one.

The Rolls-Royce brand was undeniably founded on the quality, refinement and resilience of the Silver Ghost. Sales were certainly brisk thanks to the marketing genius of Claude Johnson and successes from the early days of the 1907 Scottish Trial to the Alpine Trials just before the outbreak of war.

Were it not for that war, it would perhaps be a more regular occurrence to find a Silver Ghost from this era of manufacture that still retained the coachwork it had been delivered with. However, so many were repurposed or destroyed in that time, that they are exceptionally rare.

Historians count the number of Silver Ghosts to survive still wearing their original bodies to be very modest, Lindley Bothwell's 1912 is one of those ultra rare survivors.

THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

The original build records for chassis 2169 quite clearly denote that the car would be supplied to Automobiles Rolls-Royce (France) Ltd. By November 8, 1912 it was on test and once readied, it is listed as being sent on the 'M.R. Goods Grande Vitesse' train, as a temporary entry in the first days of 1913. It is noted that it should be bodied by local Parisien carrossier Muhlbacher et Fils with Landaulette Limousine Coachwork. A nickel finish chassis, as was becoming the norm in this period, it was supplied with CAV Dynamo to provide for electric lighting. No other information on the coachwork is recorded, but from other photographs of contemporary coachwork by this house, it must appear today precisely as it would have been delivered new.

According to John Fasal's excellent reference work, The Edwardian Rolls-Royce, the completed chassis 2169, replete with its Muhlbacher body was delivered new to Mrs. Henry Smith. Born Annie Armstrong of Baltimore, Mrs. Smith first married Rhinelander Stewart, only to divorce him and marry James Henry 'Silent' Smith in 1906. Smith was incredibly wealthy, inheriting some $50,000,000 from his uncle George Smith, a pioneering banker in Chicago and the Northwest. Once married, they proceeded to tour the world for a year during which Mr. Smith succumbed to illness in Japan and died leaving his colossal fortune to Annie.

After Mr. Smith's death, she became enamored with Jean de St. Cyr, a curious character who it appears was from a very different social strata to Smith. Born John Edward Thompson in Waco, Texas to a poor family, Thompson migrated to New York and developed a great friendship with a Robert Swemm. The two were clearly quite some operators, and within a year or two the name of Thompson had morphed to Jean de St. Cyr, while Swemm was now von Swemm! Through society events, Mrs. Smith and Jean de St. Cyr were introduced.

A single additional card in the Rolls archives notes the name Mrs. J. de St. Cyr, Ritz Carlton, New York, where they are known to have lived as well as on an estate in San Mateo. By late 1930 or early 1931, the car is listed on the Rolls-Royce of America Territorial lists for the San Francisco region, showing it to be still owned by St. Cyr and sharing a stable with no fewer than three other Rolls-Royce cars! Mrs de St. Cyr, nee Armstrong had died in 1925, leaving Jean as widower to enjoy their El Cerrito Estate. Ultimately, his next marriage provided to be his undoing and his third wife ended buying their home and selling the entire contents with famed West Coast auctioneers Butterfield and Butterfield (acquired by Bonhams in 2000).

After 1931, the trail of the car goes cold. It picks up in the 1950s when the car came into the Bothwell Collection. Notes on file state that the car came to them via Vladivostok and that it was bought from or through Richard Teague. It is assumed that this is none other than the legendary Packard and AMC designer, himself also a noted car collector.

An old engraved plaque spells out 'Роллс Ройс' being Rolls-Royce in Russian, tying in with the tale passed down to Bothwell, which was that Teague had acquired the car from Russia and that it had been Tsar Nicholas II's personal car. Throughout its custody in the Bothwell collection it has been referred to as the 'Tsar Rolls', frequently in magazine articles. The 'Tsar tale' is clearly contradicted by the Rolls Territorial lists which appear to show no break in ownership from 1912 to the 1930s, the apparent anomaly is unexplained.

Another interesting provenance detail is that the driver compartment wears an 'Official Headlight Certificate' from the California DMV, seemingly dated from 1923 and listing thing the Owner as being 'J. St. Cyr' of San Mateo, which also suggests that the car had simply migrated with St. Cyr, to New York as the build sheet states and later to the West Coast.

As with many cars within the collection, it would be used for movie work and although brief, among its history is a cameo in one of the more prominent films for any of the cars, being part of the Ascot horse race scene in the award winning My Fair Lady of 1964.

In the Bothwell ownership, the car has clearly been refurbished on more than one occasion, presumably to fit the requirements of movie roles. It was formerly painted black, and later to the current scheme. Under the skin it would seem that beyond a couple of repaints and a reupholstered rear compartment, that the car has never undergone a intrusive restoration. Because of this, the car is clearly a highly authentic example of its breed, which appears largely unaltered through its century of existence, it still retains details such as its CAV lighting specified on its original order, coachbuilder plaques, correct Rolls-Royce ignition coil, all housed within an exquisite formal body penned by its coachbuilder. Mechanically, the car has been used as recently as this summer for a family event, proving it to be operational.

As one of few that exist from this era still to perpetuate wearing their original coachwork, married to its lengthy history within the Bothwell Collection, this is undeniably an exceptionally rare and important Rolls-Royce.

Footnotes

  • Note: Family states Russian history connecting to Tsar Nicholas of Russia

Saleroom notices

  • Please note, this vehicle is titled under model year 1912 and the title is in transit.
Activities
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